I came to Brown Canyon Ranch looking for a little afternoon hiking. I saw a five-mile loop mentioned in AllTrails, I had the afternoon off, and why not kill a little time. What I did not expect was for it to become my favorite, weekly stop for the six months l lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
For starters, the Ranch House and Museum is a wonderful surprise. Open to the public to mill through at their leisure, it is a well-preserved document to Old West ranching spanning several families of residence. For more info, visit Friends of Brown Canyon Ranch and their volunteer efforts. With each stop at the former home, I found something new. And then, onto the hiking!
I walk down the flat dirt road (or driveway) from off-street parking to the ranch house and go from there. Taking the Brown Canyon Trail loop, that gives you a 6-mile hike with about a 400 foot change in elevation. That 400 feet comes all at once and is a good, mini-workout that changes the hike from "easy" to "moderate." But there are so many trails leading off this main loop, I can't fathom how far they go. A 1000-foot change in elevation is just for starters. You'll pass through prairie, dense forest, rocky inclines, and find many great views along the way. There's also plenty of mounting biking opportunities, but be sure to be in great shape for that. There's also great viewing of the "Eye in the Sky" Aerostar radar balloon run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Go during stormy weather with threats of lightning strikes, and it's quite a sight to see it descend to the safety of Earth.